On March 21, 2006, the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against Municipio de Vega Alta (Municipality of Vega Alta). The D.O.J. asked the court for ...
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On March 21, 2006, the United States Department of Justice ("D.O.J.") filed a lawsuit under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. ("Title VII") in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico against Municipio de Vega Alta (Municipality of Vega Alta). The D.O.J. asked the court for injunctive relief, alleging that the defendant had violated Title VII, through its agency the Municipal Police, by discriminating against female officers on the basis of sex and by retaliating against a male officer for cooperating with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") with its investigation of the discrimination against female officers.
The complaint alleges that the Municipal Police discriminated on the basis of sex by: (1) excluding female officers from supervisory duties, regular shift work, driving patrol cars and other vehicles, and conducting investigations commensurate with their experience; (2) assigning female officers to clerical duties; and (3) failing or refusing to take appropriate action to remedy the effects of the discriminatory treatment. The complaint further alleges that the Municipal Police retaliated against a male officer for his participation in the EEOC investigation of sex discrimination by: (1) excluding him from supervisory duties in a desirable area; (2) transferring him out of the desirable area; (3) denying him the opportunity to participate in relevant training sessions; (4) threatening him with suspension or termination; (5) denying him a letter of reference for employment with another municipality; and (6) failing or refusing to take appropriate action to remedy the effects of the retaliatory treatment.
The individual employees sought to intervene as plaintiffs. In the intervenor's complaint, the employees named as defendants the municipality as well as the mayor and the commissioner of police. The plaintiffs sought relief under Title VII for sex discrimination and retaliation and also sought relief under several local laws. The defendants moved the court to dismiss the intervenor complaint arguing that it had not been filed within the requisite ninety (90) day period following the receipt of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. The mayor and the commissioner of police moved the court to dismiss the complaint arguing that as individuals, they could not be sued under Title VII. On May 15, 2007, the District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez) granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the Title VII retaliation claims on the grounds that the plaintiff's had failed to file within the requisite ninety day period. The court declined to dismiss the Title VII sex discrimination claims on the grounds that the plaintiffs have an unqualified right to intervene in a suit brought on their behalf. All Title VII claims against the mayor and the commissioner of police were dismissed on the grounds that there is no individual liability under Title VII.
On September 4, 2007, the parties submitted a motion to enter a consent decree, which was granted on September 10, 2007. Under the decree, parties made no admissions. With respect to four individual plaintiff-intervenors, the decree provided for monetary relief of varying amounts as damages and attorney's fees (adding up to $225,000.00). The defendant agreed to expunge their employment records of negative references, and in the case of one plaintiff, to provide neutral references. The plaintiffs in exchange released all of their claims.
The decree also contained general injunctions on the following: 1) prohibition of gender discrimination with respect to compensation, terms and conditions of employment; 2) prohibition on retaliation. The defendant agreed to implement a clearly described complaints procedure with multiple and accessible venues with following features: 1) protection of confidentiality of complainants; 2) prompt, thorough, impartial investigation of gender discrimination complaints; 3) prompt actions, if discrimination or retaliation occurred; 4) distribution of the new policies and procedures. The municipality also agreed to provide training on gender discrimination and retaliation to all supervisors, lasting at least three hours. The United States retained a right to monitor compliance at any point. The Court retained jurisdiction over the implementation of the decree for three years. The decree would dissolve after 3 years without additional orders from the Court. Kaitlin Corkran - 08/29/2007
Zhandos Kuderin - 07/17/2014